Why the iPhone XS is the Perfect Smartphone for Measuring Stockpiles

Apple just released their new flagship iPhone XS and XS Max on September 21st. The phone looks nearly identical to last year’s iPhone X, however, under the hood it is a completely different story. We spent the past couple months visiting rock quarries, bark mulch producers, and paper mills testing the new iPhone and here is why we love the new iPhone XS.

The Camera of the Future

Apple’s iPhone XS keynote spent a considerable amount of time explaining why the new camera is far better than any camera they have produced in the past. Usually, the improvements are incremental and not worth spending hundreds of dollars each year to upgrade. We are excited to say for the first time in a while that this camera is worth the money.

What is different this time with the camera? Extended dynamic range! Broken down in simple terms, this means the camera can see more detail in the brightest and darkest sections of the images it captures. Apple accomplishes this through impressive real time computation only possible on their new A12 Bionic chipset. Instead of using the traditional video capture method of capturing 30 images per second, the iPhone captures 60 images per second alternating light and dark images. The light and dark image pairs are merged together in real time to extend the dynamic range in the video:

iPhone 6S vs iPhone XS Max Dynamic Range Comparison

The picture above highlights the extended dynamic range on the iPhone XS Max. The area around the sun on iPhone 6S video is completely white and blown out. Cloud and sky detail around the sun is still visible in the iPhone XS Max video. The stockpile surface detail on the iPhone XS Max is visible even on the darkest sections of the image. However, dark areas in the iPhone 6S video are almost completely black.

Why Does this Matter to You?

Your stockpile measurement videos on the iPhone XS now look fantastic, what exactly does that mean? As we head into winter, the new iPhone will be a game changer for harsh sun conditions. In the following article we will explain why the extended dynamic range on the iPhone XS means capturing measurements with the sun on the horizon will get a lot easier, failure rates due to sun-flare are greatly reduced, and accuracy of volumes is increased due to the greater detail in dark parts of the pile.

Capturing Measurements Gets a Lot Easier 

You all have been there: it is 8:30 in the morning and you are trying to measure stockpiles while the sun is in your eyes. You try advanced measurement techniques such as holding a clipboard over your iPhone in an attempt to reduce the amount of sun the camera is capturing. Angling the camera away from the sun is also a technique of the past. Sometimes these advanced techniques work, sometimes they don’t. The iPhone XS cuts out the need for any advanced measurement techniques. Extended dynamic range means that the sun doesn’t flare across the camera lens and lead to an unusable video. Using the iPhone XS, you can measure inventory piles in the morning and late afternoon the same way that you would midday. Say goodbye to any fancy camera angling or trying to hide the sun with your hand.

No More Failed Measurements

Photogrammetry is the engine that powers the ability to be able to measure a stockpile by taking a simple iPhone video. In order to measure a stockpile successfully, we need continuous, clear video footage from the iPhone camera. Sun flare from the sun low on the horizon cuts through imagery like a knife obscuring a part of the scene. We show both the iPhone 6S and iPhone XS footage from a measurement of the same pile in the below image. The colorful streaks on the imagery illustrate unique surface features being tracked as the camera moves around the pile. On the top right, you can clearly see that the sun flare cuts through the scene causing a gap in the streaks. This gap in features being tracked causes a gap in the final measurement data. The data gap is what causes iPhone measurements to fail due to sun flare.

Sun flaring on the iPhone 6S video caused the measurement to fail.
Sun flaring was not existent in the iPhone XS video.

The bottom right photo from the iPhone XS can handle the bright sun and no sun flare is present in the imagery. The camera is able to measure the complete surface of the pile. We tested against sun flare on numerous piles and we concluded that sun flare is almost non-existent with the iPhone XS. This is important to users who are measuring critical month end piles and cannot afford to have a failure.

Accuracy of Volumes in Dark Areas Increased

An unexpected benefit of the new iPhone XS is that the camera captured previously unseen details in dark shadowy areas of a stockpile. The dark shadows cast over stockpiles due to a low sun angle in the sky or due to poor lighting situations in buildings meant that some areas of the piles were obscured in darkness. The extended dynamic range of the iPhone XS camera effectively lets the iPhone see areas that would be completely dark in the past. The pair of photos below shows an image from a measurement in a poorly lit building. The photo on the left is the raw imagery from the camera. On the photo on the right, we boosted the brightness of the image to reveal that the surface details were still captured. Brightening a dark image captured with a previous generation iPhone would reveal that the camera did not capture any surface detail.

The increased amount of detail captured on piles in dark settings provides us with more information and more accurate volumes. We no longer need to estimate the surfaces in the dark areas of a stockpile. This increase in accuracy is great news for site managers, accountants, and auditors. They have greater confidence that an entire pile is being measured correctly.

Should I Upgrade My iPhone?

We admit that the new iPhone is more expensive than any iPhone in the past. The new iPhone XR starts at $750 and you can price the iPhone Max up to $1,500. This leaves most people wondering if it is worth the expense to upgrade. Ask these simple questions before deciding to upgrade:

  • Do I need to measure stockpiles early in the morning or late in the afternoon?
  • Have I missed critical stockpile measurements in the past due to sun issues?
  • Do I need to train new users to measure Stockpiles in the near future?
  • Do I have stockpiles indoors with poor lighting?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, we highly recommend upgrading. You will no longer have to consider the time of day when measuring stockpiles because the dynamic range of the camera can handle all types of lighting. Missed measurements due to sun flare issues will be virtually eliminated with the iPhone XS. Training new users will be easier and you can skip the frustration of having to reteach complicated advanced measurement techniques. Lastly, measuring in poor lit situations will still yield great results.

You will also be buying the fastest, most advanced iPhone to date. The new A12 Bionic chipset on the iPhone uses less energy and crunches more data in less time than any iPhone in the past. This translates into a faster iPhone which has a greatly improved battery life compared to your current iPhone.

The facts are undeniable. The new iPhone XS is the perfect iPhone for measuring stockpiles with Stockpile Reports.

Note: The iPhone XS Max was used for all testing. The iPhone XR and XS will produce the same results.

Data, Not Distractions

The construction, agricultural, transportation and mining industries have welcomed the idea of using a drone for multiple business applications. Image of iPhone, drone, airplane data collection methods.

Stockpile Reports has been to several conferences and events during the recent months, and have noticed how many new drone exhibitors are appearing. In fact, it is very difficult for anyone NOT to notice how the interest in using drones is rapidly expanding.

We enjoy seeing technology change, and grow. During these conferences, we often ask attendees how their companies currently measure stockpile inventory, and if there is a drone strategy in place.

Some businesses already have a drone, or are in the process of purchasing one.

A few have already tried to utilize a drone, but decided that it was not a good return on their investment, in terms of both the cash spent, and the time needed to obtain accurate stockpile reporting. So they stopped using a drone.

Distractions

Some companies and managers have told us that they don’t wish to make an investment in a drone just yet. A few reasons include:

  • Avoiding the need for instructional training
  • Don’t wish to make an investment in accompanying software
  • Their site location is not conducive to drones; such as being near an airport or in a windy area
  • Their stockpiles are messy: vegetation covers the piles, the pile materials touch, there are stackers and obstructions
  • They have multiple sites, spread out so far away from the other so travel becomes a factor
  • Not a clear, compelling ‘need’ to either purchase or lease a drone yet
  • Don’t want to buy more than one drone in case one becomes damaged or flies away
  • Not certain they will get a good ROI on a drone purchase in terms of labor savings vs. other survey methods over a period of time
  • Wary about FAA regulations

Generally, Stockpile Reports has found that the construction, transportation and mining industries prefer to avoid new investments that require massive training. Companies are interested in results that are accurate, safe, simple, legal, and of course, cost-effective.

Data

To drone or not to drone? We aren’t able to answer that question. Every company has different needs and concerns. Drones can be a very good way to gather data for stockpile volumetric reporting!

We can, however, authoritatively state that our clients really want answers. They want accurate perpetual inventory, and want to avoid write-offs.

Stockpile Reports has a patented platform that processes data gathered from a drone, from an airplane or via iPhone. It also doesn’t matter what type of drone is flown. Clients have the choice to use one image collection method, or all three!

In other words, BYOD. Bring your own drone, we’ll process the data. Don’t want to do that? No problem, we’ll provide the most cost effective flight survey solution in the market— we’ll fly your site and process the data. Or you can use an iPhone and we’ll process the data from your smartphone.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what solution you choose. If you want to invest in a drone in the future, we’re here for you. Your company won’t need to also invest in a system to process the data, or to warehouse it. Our subscribers already receive those benefits. And even better— our clients receive accurate reports in hours with minimal training, no extra hidden fees, and no other distractions.

 

 

 

Patent Awarded for Technology Powering StockpileReports.com

URC Ventures was awarded its first patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. measuringpileoutside

Patent #9,196,084 was awarded to URCV for Determining Object Volume from Mobile Device Images.

URCV specializes in solving industry challenges through real-time digitization of the physical world, and was a featured presenter at the recent Capturing Reality Forum in Salzburg, Austria. Company team members are recognized as experts in reality capture, photogrammetry and 3D modeling utilizing massive world-scale image sets and stereo modeling technology.

Stockpile Reports is the first commercial application for the company. Stockpile Reports leverages URC Venture’s mobile imaging technology to accurately measure the volume of stockpiled material, delivering accurate stockpile volume, tonnage and pile locations via an Apple® iPhone® device, by aerial, or UAS data. StockpileReports.com is currently being used by over 100 companies in 12 countries, to manage over $2 billion dollars in inventory.

“StockpileReports.com illustrates how reality capture can be applied to solve real business and industry problems,” said David Boardman, CEO of URC Ventures. “The technology behind the patent currently powers the service. URCV’s innovation is transforming the way physical inventory counts are being performed in the industry.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.02.56 PM“We have been processing over a 100 million images from cell phones and other cameras in an academic context for years,” stated Dr. Jan- Michael Frahm, Chief Science Advisor at URC Ventures. “We’re very pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Patent Office for being innovative, and also proud that our patented technology is being utilized by people like DOT workers, engineers, and quarry managers. We’re working to solve everyday business problems. URCV will continue to discover, and provide solutions. This patent is just the beginning.”

URCV Team members Jan-Michael Frahm, Brian Clipp, Charles Erignac and Jared Heinly hold Doctorate degrees in Computer Graphics, Computer Design, and Computer Vision. Dr. Jan-Michael Frahm has written over 100 peer-reviewed publications in computer vision conferences and journals, and is an Editor in Chief of the Elsevier Journal of Image and Vision Computing. Team members currently hold 32 other patents.

The full text of the patent is available on the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov.

 

 

Yes, You Can Still Be More Productive in 2015!

Have you kept your 2015 resolutions? It isn’t too late. verticalmeasurements

A common theme that we heard from our clients this year, is that they want to increase their productivity.

We understand, because we do, too!

Stockpile Reports put into motion several strategies beginning before January 2015, to increase productivity in 2015.

A Redesigned Stockpiles App

This past year we released a redesigned Stockpiles App for the iPhone, with more tools that makes ground-based stockpile measuring faster and more intuitive for users.

The updated App, in turn, reduced the amount of questions from our clients. The new tools and ease of use gave clients and executives higher confidence in successfully completing a stockpile measurement, time after time after time. That enabled them to be even more productive while measuring piles, in smaller sites and also across a large enterprise.

For example, the Texas Department of Transportation measured thousands of stockpiles during the month of June as part of their annual inventory. The people who performed the measurements weren’t surveyors. They ranged from front-loaders to executives. They were not only very productive (one team measured 185 stockpiles in an hour) but they were also confident in the quality of their report results.

Aerial Offering Takes Off

Stockpile Reports also launched our aerial capability for the US in early 2015. Our aerial offering has become quite successful since then! Subscribers are receiving monthly measurements for the typical price of only one fly-over by other services. This gives them an opportunity to review how a site changes over time, and make future planning easier.

Clients receive the fastest results in the industry — online access to site and stockpile reports are available within hours after the flight. There is no action needed from clients other than tagging materials to the already outlined stockpiles online after the flight. Labor time from clients is reduced drastically— to as low as 20 minutes after an aerial flight.

Debunking Difficult Bunker Measurements

A big source of frustration for our customers was trying to figure out how to get the volume of material stored in their bunkers and bins.

We listened to them, and put our engineers and team members on many different sites across the US, examining various bunker configurations and materials, both indoors and outside.

Typical material stored in bunkers includes:

  • DOT Approved Salt and Sand
  • Recycling- Utilized in the Scrap Metal Industry
  • Aggregates such as Gravel
  • Landscaping/ Nursery Mulches
  • Animal Food
  • Granular Fertilizer- Urea, Ash
  • Livestock Manure Storage
  • Scrap Metal storage
  • Grain

We released another new capability in 2015: bunker and bin measurements using an iPhone. Bunkers containing bulk materials can be located indoors, or outside. Material to be measured may be bounded by 1, 2, or 3 walls in bay areas of varying widths at a typical site.

BYOD: Bring Your Own Drone

All of us saw the explosion of drone usage and interest in 2015. UAVs are now playing an increasing role in company’s strategy for providing rapid turn production and inventory measurements.

Our engineering team has been working closely with drones and remotely piloted vehicles for nearly a decade.  We have seen the ease of use and capabilities increase – while the size and price has dropped dramatically during that time.

Stockpile Reports has been supporting Australian clients by providing stockpile reporting from drone/UAV flights in Australia for 2 years now.

Our US clients can process drone imagery using our company. We are experienced at piloting and operating various models and are also available for consultations. This includes helping you with flight patterns and camera angles.

StockpileReports.com is the only solution to enable enterprise inventory measurements of thousands of geographically disparate stockpiles in hours.  Our support for phones, drones, and planes provides your company the ability to develop a Stockpile Measurement Strategy to meet your business goals and improve your productivity.

Connect with us today. 2016 is almost here. You still have time to achieve your 2015 goal to measure and manage your stockpile inventory more productively!

Apple Announces iPhone 6s

Apple just announced the release of the iPhone 6s, an imagesof6supdated version of its smartphone, iOS9 with bundled new features and a new color.

Some of our customers may be quite excited about the new Rose Gold color. However, we suspect customers are more interested in the specific benefits that the 6s offers in terms of stockpile measurements.

As you may know, last year’s Apple’s iPhone 6 release offered many improvements, such as a new A8 processor, larger 4.7″ landscape screen size, camera low-light and better focus. We upgraded our Stockpiles app to leverage these features for mining and construction customers.

Here’s a quick overview of the new 6s, and why we are excited about today’s release announcement:

  • Improved camera: 12 megapixel iSight camera, increases the resolution of the images by 50%
  • Improved video: 4K high-definition video, enabling ultra-high definition footage.
  • Sturdier frame: built from a stronger Series 7000 aluminium alloy
  • Strongest cover glass
  • Faster Wifi: up to 866 mps
  • A9 Chip
  • M9 motion co-processor
  • The new iPhones also support up to 23 LTE bands: the most in any smartphone — for better worldwide roaming.

We are most excited about the new video and camera changes. We believe that customers who measure indoor stockpiles and bunkers are going to really appreciate the improved video of the 6s! If your warehouse is lit unevenly, or in lower light you might want to consider getting an iPhone 6s, as it will be able to capture even greater material detail in lower light conditions.

The 6s is arriving just in time for fall and winter. Weaker light outdoors, and rainy/overcast skies are in our near future. This will be an excellent tool to capture more detail in outdoor stockpiles.

In addition to lower light, the temps will also begin to drop in winter. Many of you will begin working in slippery conditions. Having stronger cover glass may prove useful if the iPhone is accidentally dropped.

Don’t have to worry about low light? Great! Customers in sunny areas will see even better results on low-contrast surfaces, such as white and fine sand while utilizing the new 4K video.

The iPhone is available for pre-order September 12. Stockpile Reports’ developers have been working with the new iOS 9, to ensure that our app is compatible with Apple’s release. We are very excited about today’s announcement!

 

 

Achieving the Goal: Stockpile Inventory Management

2015 is already half over. You only have six more months left to achieve your year-end targets. If you made a resolution last January to lose 10 lbs in 2015, there is still time remaining to make your goal— if you make changes to your habits.

A combination of measuring by iPhone and by aerial methods is the solution for gathering stockpile measurements for inventory.
A combination of measuring by iPhone and by aerial methods provides stockpile measurements for inventory.

Speaking of losses… how are your inventory numbers tracking to your 2015 plan? Are you afraid that the company will need to write off millions of dollars again at the end of the year?

Maybe you are assuming that this year will be “different”, and inventory numbers will come close to reconciling, without making changes in current stockpile measurement methods.

Stockpile inventory management is often a real source of ongoing frustration for the companies that have approached Stockpile Reports for help. The challenges of measuring the volume of stockpiled materials are many.

Accessibility, safety, costs, schedules and competing priorities make it difficult for the quarry manager to measure stockpiles as often as the accounting department would prefer. We hear managers say, “Do they want me to make rock— or measure rock?”

The CFO wants to ensure that production levels remain in alignment with the year’s accounting plan. Accounting departments often struggle with various data entry sources from multiple people. Measurement information comes in from voice, email, paper and spreadsheets. Too often there are data error issues, and sometimes the information arrives late.

Is it unreasonable to want stockpile inventory tracking available on a real-time basis? 

No. Our clients have discovered that utilizing a combination of iPhone and aerial (airplane or drone) imagery provides a complete solution.

The benefits of using an iPhone and aerial combination include:

  • Measuring with an iPhone is easy enough to use that anyone can measure stockpiles with minimal training
  • Using an iPhone on the ground enables frequent measurements
  • Using aerial data by plane or drone provides regular quarterly measurements
  • Aerial stockpile measurements provides inventory information for hard-to-reach, or dangerous stockpiles
  • Stockpile Reports arranges and provides certified aerial photographers to fly your site, and are trained to collect optimal imagery
  • Stockpile Reports has the platform to process your data, regardless of aerial, drone or iPhone collection methods
  • Measurement results are automatically processed and available to corporate with no data entry
  • The measurement results meets the consistency and accuracy requirements of the company
  • iPhone and aerial measurement methods meet safety requirements
  • Competitive subscription pricing gives the company the freedom to measure year-round

Learn from what hasn’t worked before: don’t assume that this time things will be “different” when it comes to your monthly inventory results. Make an action plan that will get you to your target. Contact us today for more information and ask about a demonstration— we can help.

Should Your Company Measure by Aerial or iPhone?

Your company may want to measure stockpiles by both: aerial and iPhone!

Here are a few reasons why we recommend adding aerial measurements:

  • Stockpiles are very hard to walk around. For example, they might touch an adjoining pile, run into bushes, trees or be located next to water.
  • The piles are tall, and one is unable to see the top of the pile from the ground. The top might be quite bumpy.
  • Stockpiles are located in a high-traffic area
  • There are many multiple stockpiles located in a wide-spread area
  • The company has stockpiles located in various locations or across multiple U.S. States
  • The financial team and CFO requires regular measurements of stockpiles across the enterprise monthly, or quarterly, with results available online for every pile within 24-hours of data uploadobstruction
  • Allows for remote site management and accountability, to avoid end of the year write-offs

Here are a few reasons why using an iPhone is great for measuring stockpiles:

  • Appropriate in large or small sites
  • Can easily use in light traffic areas
  • Works best measuring stockpiles that don’t touch are are easy to reach
  • Great for quickly measuring very large stockpiles with flat tops
  • Great for small or large stockpiles having viewable, bumpy tops
  • Reduces third party expenses related to measurements, with lower-internal labor costs
  • Gets the CFO regular measurements and online documented inventory within 24-hours of data upload

busyandbigThe Best of Ground and Air for Your Business

Your company will benefit by measuring by either iPhone or by augmenting your subscription by aerial or by drone. Our affordable subscription plans and 24-hour turnarounds from data collection to stockpile reporting is unsurpassed in the industry.

Customers have the opportunity to get 12 monthly measurements for the typical price of only one fly-over by other services, which makes Stockpile Reports’ aerial solution the most cost-effective aerial survey solution available.

 

Measure stockpiles on the ground with an iPhone or Water-Hazardmeasure your site by air. The choice is yours. To find out more about our service contact Stockpile Reports now.

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last week we announced that our customers surpassed measuring 125 million tons of material using our platform.

As our readers know, we love data. Just for fun we looked back into our blog, and saw that on May 27, 2014 we announced a similar type of milestone. Customers had measured over 25 million tons of material.

Stockpile measurements by customers have grown 500% in one year!

We dug a little deeper, to compare year to year. Here’s a bit more to share:

Aerial stockpile measurements using an airplane and UAS grew 583% in the same period between 2014 and 2015.

Stockpile measurements using an iPhone grew 264%.

We now have clients in 12 countries.

Year to Year customer growth and usage.
May 2014 to May 2015 growth and usage.

Stockpile Reports’ patent-pending system is the only way to measure 100% of your site’s stockpiles, with online results available for view in 24-hours via our web portal.  This enables your business to get the best of ground and air for stockpile measurements.

Are your current measurement methods… 

  • Easy enough to use that anyone could measure stockpiles with minimal training?
  • Don’t have to be outsourced, and someone is trained how to do it at every site?
  • The results meet the consistency and accuracy requirements of your company?
  • The results are automatically processed and available to corporate with no data entry?
  • Allow you to measure dozens of sites in a day, with the stockpile results available to you online in 24-hours?

If you can’t answer ‘Yes’ to any of those questions, or if your current measurement method doesn’t enable you to measure company stockpiles confidently, quickly, and comprehensively then you should Contact Us.

 

Master Your Measurements

Spring is a great season to be outside again. Just in case your iPhone skills are a little rusty, here are a few ways to get you back into the 'swing' of measuring stockpiles!
Spring is a great season to be outside again. Here are a few ways to get you back into the ‘swing’ of measuring stockpiles!

It might feel like it has been a long time coming, but spring weather has finally arrived in most locations!

A few of us at Stockpile Reports play golf and have been watching the PGA Tournaments and following players.

We realized that there are a lot of lessons from this sport that also relates to measuring stockpile inventory. Many of our clients are avid golfers, too— and some of them are very good! So for this blog post, we thought we’d use a few golf analogies that seem appropriate for April.

1) Check your equipment
Companies don’t need much equipment to measure your piles, but they do need to be up-to-date. You need two solid colored, triangular shaped, smooth-sided orange cones, 18” tall and over. Cones should be clean, smooth and bright orange– so if they have gotten muddy during spring weather, wipe them off. You also need to ensure the cones are spaced correctly apart before you measure your pile. Do you know where your tape measure is? It might be time to get a new one. And of course, you need an iPhone with your Login and Password as part of your subscription. Make sure the newest Stockpiles App version has been downloaded into your iPhone.

2) Practice first
Before beginning your measurement, walk around the stockpile first. This will help you to walk smooth and steady when you begin recording. Doing this will help you avoid hazards such as slippery spots, mud, bumps, and water.

Don't get caught in the rough. Here's an extreme example of an overgrown stockpile.
Don’t get caught in the rough. Here’s an extreme example of an overgrown stockpile.

3) Tee up when the sun is not low on the horizon
When possible, collect data during the day while the sun is not low on the horizon. Avoid early morning sunrise and late afternoon measurements. This helps prevent both washed out imagery as well as lens flare— and you will be able to see better without the sun in your eyes.

4) Don’t get caught in the rough
Pile maintenance is very important. Clear away the brush and weeds that might be growing out of, or in front of, any long-standing piles so measurements are actually measuring material inventory, not weeds. This also helps increase visibility around your site. Your team will be able to walk more safely around the piles.

5) Get some help
Start your busiest season with the correct fundamentals. Did you know that there are video tutorials and other tips online for you? Look in the Help area if you are at a computer, or navigate to the Help tab on your Stockpiles App. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro in no time!

Thankfully, you don’t need years of training, practice and talent like PGA stars to be a success. Measuring stockpile inventory using an iPhone is a lot easier and faster! Every stockpile is cash on the ground. It might look brown, or grey, or many other colors when you view it, but it is definitely a shade of green to an accountant or finance department.

Innovation and the DOT

Did you know that the Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 15, 1966? The department’s first official day of operation was April 1, 1967.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is the principal agency responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing national transportation policy and administering most federal transportation programs.

The department also makes available billions of dollars in federal grants each year to state and local authorities to help improve transportation programs throughout the country. Every U.S. state, including Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia has an agency or a DOT department with transportation planning.

However, infrastructure growth is slowing, so the maintenance, preservation, and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure are becoming increasingly more important. As public funding shifts from construction to maintenance, maintenance organizations become more accountable to administrators, politicians, and the public for a safe, convenient, and accessible transportation system.

A training session at the TxDOT.
A Stockpile Reports training session at the TxDOT.

The country’s entire transportation system is under growing strain, and estimates of the cost to repair and upgrade the system to meet current and future demands are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. You probably notice a sign of this strain every day if you encounter a new pothole in the road, experience grid-locked traffic, or see road crews at work.

Maintenance organizations are key to not only protecting the nation’s multibillion-dollar highway investment but also for continuing to provide a safe, efficient transportation system.

Technology is changing the kinds of information and infrastructures that must be maintained. Statewide DOTs are now exploring and testing new ways to be innovative in their processes to save money for taxpayers.

Advanced technology is increasingly being incorporated into the transportation infrastructure, and as a result, new maintenance procedures and a very different set of skills for maintenance managers as well as maintenance workers are being required.

Stockpile Reports has been working closely with the Texas DOT  and other statewide transportation organizations, and are proud to be assisting with new solutions, processes and technology. The TxDOT expects to save a significant amount of money —perhaps in the millions of dollars— by implementing our platform as a part of their statewide maintenance initiatives.

iphonepov
Using an iPhone to measure stockpiles is changing the way DOT’s are doing business.

Besides using an iPhone to measure stockpiles, other ideas that integrate the iPhone measurements include:

  • Measuring debris piles for contract hauling volumes
  • Measuring materials on hand volumes
  • Measuring stockpile volumes for change order negotiations
  • Measuring stockpile volumes for monthly pay estimates
  • Measuring monthly supplier inventories
  • Measuring vendor stockpile volumes to meet testing requirements

Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking. Yet state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have ambitious goals: improve safety, address congestion, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to name a few. These goals would be challenging even if money were no object, but dwindling conventional federal and state transportation funding makes these goals even harder to achieve.

It is clear that DOTs across the country are changing the way they do business because it is needed. America’s transportation network is crucial to economic growth. Agencies are taking new approaches to transportation that fit the demands of their states, providing greater benefits at less cost. They are adopting innovative yet pragmatic reforms, using data and new technologies.

The DOT is innovative, and continues to innovate, by reevaluating and retooling traditional practices. All of us at Stockpile Reports feel proud and privileged, to be part of this exciting process.

Resources: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653029.pdf
http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/circulars/ec092.pdf
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/maint/
http://www.planning.dot.gov/documents/briefingbook/bbook.htm
http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/energy/final_report.pdf
http://ntl.bts.gov/historian/history.htm
http://www.allgov.com/departments/department-of-transportation?detailsDepartmentID=578